The memory began to fade as he looked over the rich green grasses of the valley. Lomere found it hard to believe how much had changed in just one passage of seasons. The winter had been hard, yet many of the animals they usually hunted had not come to the shelter of the valley this time. Other creatures had told of Elven hunters beyond the pass. They had watched them over the years and had set up their camps nearby to kill them as they moved to the relative warmth of the valley. It was only a matter of time before the hunters would move beyond the gorge, threatening the Griffon’s very existence.
From behind him, Lomere heard the pad-click of claws approaching. He braced himself as he turned to face the sound.
“Father, they will come.” His throaty voice was beginning to deepen as he moved into maturity. “I have seen them moving along the plains, closer and closer to the gorge.”
“Until then, My Son, we will carry on as we have since Pantae brought us here. These lands belong to us, and we will not surrender it without a fight. It is a battle we will not lose.” The determination in his father’s voice surprised Lomere. He had never heard such savagery in the king’s words, but then, times had never been this dire before.
Pantae was Lomere’s great-great grandsire. He had brought the Griffon pride here to show them a better way. He had changed his people from a flock of scavengers to the most fierce and majestic hunters ever to live in this world. Pantae was nearly a God in the eyes of the Griffon Pride.
“Now, we must find food. You will go to the West. Bring back what you can carry, Son. I will send Lanzer to the East, Kretah to the North, and Monzin to the South. We must eat or the young will perish these next months. Go, Lomere, make me proud.” With that, the king turned and left the prince’s side. He knew Lomere would not fail if he could keep his pride and arrogance out of his way.
The prince waited until the others had joined him. They would leave the valley together. Each of them would fly in different directions, but together, they would go. They arrived one by one. Each young griffon had volunteered to undertake this journey. It was a part of their trials into maturity they had been told, though it was more than that for Lomere. He was a prince and it was expected of him to go. He could hear the rustling of feathers, the scratching of the rocky ground as the sires and dams of these ten watched, preparing to send them off with the shrieking roars which symbolized courage and honor among the Griffon Pride.
Lomere spoke then, his voice strong, to show his position as Prince, “Hunt well, my cousins. Bring our pride back as much prey as you are able to carry.” With that said he spread his wings and pushed up from the ridge. Strong, snowy white wings carried him West, towards the golden plains beyond their peaceful valley.
For three days he flew. He marked with his scent, the more bountiful hunting grounds. He would hunt the best spots on his return home. It would be the best way to protect the freshness of the kills he acquired. Bright green fields and dark, dense forests passed below him, divited by rivers which could only be compared to threads of the finest silver. The looser copses of trees and shallow, sheltered valleys were near cornucopias of prey for him to pillage as he saw fit. He felt as if he were King already, the ruler of these skies!
His stomach grumbled. Soon, he would have to find food and a suitable place to roost for the night. He watched the sparse trees begin to get closer together. He would find his spot among those trees, but first, dinner.
Lomere shrieked from high in the sky as he searched for prey, and suddenly he was plunging towards the earth, his razor-sharp claws extended, to snatch a rabbit from beneath a mighty oak tree. He was young and virile, the last living son of his father’s line. He would prove to them that he was more than worthy of leading his pride when his father became too old to rule. He was only two cycles of seasons in age, not quite old enough for the Trials of Pantae, but more than ready to prove himself capable of surpassing this challenge when it was time.
He plunged headlong into something not quite solid. Whatever it was, it had a springy-ness to it. That was, until it came free from its moorings to fall over him, trapping him beneath it. Lomere screamed his rage to the skies. He was trapped by some beast he could not see! His claws ripped at the grassy patch below the tree as the rabbit bounded away, the dropping beast having released its tether. He paused in his struggles and took the time to find the heart of this unknown beast. Where was the head and heart of this animal? No! He could not believe it, this was worse than he had first thought! This was no beast, but a trap! He had been trapped by a simple piece of bait! His father would never forgive this lack of intuition.
Lomere continued in his struggle to free himself, the net now biting into the tender skin beneath his wing feathers as he fought his inanimate captor. The fibers had such strength that the knife-like edge of his beak could not even cut through it. With a great surge of power, he launched himself from the now mutilated ground, wings outstretched to free himself from his bonds when he heard and felt a tremendous snap. The griffin shrieked in agony as he felt the strong, but hollow bones in his left wing shatter.
He fell to the side and roared out to his family. He was far from the boundaries of his pride lands, alone, with none of his pride to come to his aid.
Before long, the golden sun changed to crimson and began to slip toward the horizon and, finally, behind the distant mountains. Lomere watched in despair as the sky faded from brilliant azure to cold, blackened blue. He screamed out again, warning his captors that even when caught, he was Griffin! He would not go quietly; He had no intention of dying, but he would gladly throw each one of them into the dark pits of death. There was no better end for a coward who laid traps!
Lomere shivered beneath the strong netting of his trap. From time to time, he would release a shrieking roar to ward off the predators he could not defeat. The prince dared not sleep for fear of succumbing not only to the beasts which hunted in the night, but also to the cold that was seeping into his sorely beaten body. To sleep now would surely be the death of him.
When the thin crescent of the moon was high over his head, Lomere heard a twig snap. He growled low in his throat. The sound was throaty and was ended with a short whistle.
Another breaking twig brought movement inside the circle of his sight. Something was out there. It was smaller than himself, but he was at a disadvantage. The prince raised himself as best as he could and let his feathers ruffle, expanding his size to make himself more intimidating. The mighty griffon’s legs trembled beneath him. Lomere was weak from pain and hunger. This would be a difficult fight.